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Imprisoned Ukrainian Pilot Nadiya Savchenko

Honourable senators, I rise again regrettably to express concern over the recent conviction of Ukrainian pilot and political prisoner Nadiya Savchenko. Despite unsubstantiated evidence, Lieutenant Savchenko has been illegally imprisoned in Russia since June 2014. She is accused of complicity in the deaths of two Russian journalists.

On March 22, 2016, Lieutenant Savchenko was convicted on all charges and sentenced to serve 22 years in prison. Her prison sentence was accompanied by a 100,000 ruble fine.

Lieutenant Savchenko is one of many political prisoners being held captive by the Kremlin. Detentions prevail as a common politically motivated tool wielded by the Russian government to silence dissidence.

In a statement released online by her lawyers, Nadiya Savchenko stated:

There will be no appeal in the case of a guilty verdict. I want the entire civilized democratic world to understand that Russia is a third world state with a totalitarian regime and a tyrant dictator, where human rights, as well as international law, are ignored.

Lieutenant Savchenko remains a national symbol of bravery and resistance. Her very name, "Nadiya," means "hope" in Ukrainian. She sits in absentia as a member of both the Ukrainian Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

On March 3, 2016, when Russian prosecutors abruptly adjourned proceedings and refused Lieutenant Savchenko the right to deliver her final statement in court, she began her second hunger strike, refusing both food and water.

In an online statement, Lieutenant Savchenko stated:

And while (they) bargain over me, life will be leaving me, and Russia will anyways return me to Ukraine — alive or dead.

Thousands have united in protest at Russian embassies and consulates worldwide, standing in solidarity with Lieutenant Savchenko and the Ukrainian people.

Today I join, as I hope all senators will, with members of the international community in condemning the ongoing unlawful detention of Lieutenant Nadiya Savchenko. Her trial, and subsequent conviction, exemplifies an intolerable lack of due process on the part of the Russian government.

We must continue to call on the Russian government to abide by the Minsk protocols, to uphold the principles of human rights and the rule of law and to preserve the impartiality of the judicial system.

I echo the thoughts of Mr. Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. He stated:

Savchenko's release would send a strong humanitarian message given her health problems, and would build confidence in the peace process aimed at resolving the two-year-old crisis in and around Ukraine.

Noting Minister Dion's statement dated March 8, 2016, I urge all Canadian parliamentarians to call for the immediate release of Nadiya Savchenko, along with all other Ukrainian prisoners illegally imprisoned in Russia.